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‘We showed our character’: Sexton delighted as Ireland begin with win

‘We showed our character’: Sexton delighted as Ireland begin with win

Johnny Sexton Wales 2020

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton believes their Autumn Nations Cup opening night victory over Wales emphasised the strength of character within the squad.

Sexton slotted two penalties and a conversion in Ireland’s 32-9 triumph in Dublin but was withdrawn just before the half-hour mark after picking up a hamstring strain in the process of kicking his second three-pointer.

And having had a fortnight to stew on the defeat in France which cost them a shot at the Six Nations title, Sexton was delighted by his side’s response.

“When you get questioned like we have over the last couple of weeks, it shows character to bounce back and it shows what kind of people we are,” he told RTÉ Sport. 

“We’re very proud to play for this country and sometimes when you don’t perform as well as you’d like it doesn’t come across, but you could see it out there how much it meant to us and that’s what we’re most proud of.”

Sexton’s brace of penalties were two of six kicked by Ireland on a night of Welsh indiscipline, with debutant Billy Burns – who also came off injured – and Conor Murray each slotting two apiece.

Burns’ fellow Ireland new boy James Lowe marked his international bow with a late try to give the scoreline a more convincing feel after Quinn Roux had gone over in the first half on a successful night for the hosts – though Sexton feels there is still more to come.

“We can still be a bit more clinical, I think, in terms of taking more opportunities but we did some things much better tonight,” he said.

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“We’re building still with the new coaches and new personal, it takes a while get used to international rugby but we’re getting there, slowly but surely.”

As for his own condition, Sexton is hopeful his injury will prove to be nothing more than a minor knock with England at Twickenham lying in wait next weekend.

“I just picked up a strain on that penalty so it’s frustrating,” he said. “I was enjoying it out there, but most importantly the team won and we’re very pleased to bounce back.

“I’ll look after it well over the next few days and hopefully I can bounce back. It doesn’t seem too serious but we’ll see what the scan says tomorrow.”

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